Tonight, Councilman Pedro Espinal (Ward 10) introduced a resolution, which was passed, calling for more environmental controls and compliance in the Port of Providence after last week’s fire. The resolution is co-sponsored by Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilman Michael Correia (Ward 6), Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13), Councilman John J. Igliozzi Esq. (Ward 7), Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), Councilor David Salvatore (Ward 14), Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3) and Councilman James Taylor (Ward 8).
“After the fire at the scrap yard on Allen’s Avenue last week, it has become even more pressing that we need to have better environmental controls and compliance by the businesses who are working in the Port of Providence. Last year, I introduced and passed an Ordinance to protect the Port and other areas of the City from becoming a wasteland. Yet, these existing businesses continue to pollute our neighborhoods and potentially our waterways. I want these businesses to do better, be safer, and to transition as best they can to cleaner and safer practices,” stated Councilman Pedro Espinal.
The Port of Providence and Allens Avenue neighborhoods have the highest asthma rates in the state and are ranked ninth in the Country. According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, these neighborhoods have some of the highest emergency department visits among children on Medicaid with asthma in the City of Providence.
“One of the greatest crises that we are facing as a society is climate change, and the damage that is being done to the environment by businesses like scrap yards and other ‘dirty’ businesses. As a city and state, we want businesses to operate and flourish here, but we can’t have that at the expense of our residents and our natural environment. I share my colleague’s concerns and hope that we can move to more environmentally friendly business practices in the Port,” shared Councilman John Goncalves.
Through this resolution, the Council is calling on the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, who is tasked with ensuring compliance with State and Federal environmental regulations at the Port, to provide them a copy of all Notices of Violation issued to businesses and property owners located in the Port of Providence for the past ten years.
“Thankfully, last week’s incident did not result in any injuries or damages, and it should serve as a wake-up call to the entire City. The scrap yards and other businesses located around the Port can cause significant negative environmental and health impacts on the community, which is why my colleagues and I call for better oversight of the businesses around the Port. It is only a matter of time before the surrounding communities are put in jeopardy due to a lack of environmental compliance,” continued Councilman Espinal.
Copies of the resolution will be sent to Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha, Director Janet Coit of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and the members of the Providence Delegation at the Rhode Island General Assembly.